Who Is The Irish FA’s Greatest Ever Centre-Back ?

 

Northern Ireland has been blessed with regular centre-back pairings for the past 40 years with numerous players earning over 50 caps becoming legends to the Green & White Army in the process.  It will be difficult to choose between them!

The top two players in the poll will enter the team as the two Centre-Backs.

Please take the time to click each player’s respective name and read in detail their career history before placing your vote.

Poll Closes 22nd January 2016 at 20:00


Name: John McClelland
Born: 7 December 1955, Belfast
Height:
6.02 ft
Weight: 13.02 st
Position: Central-Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 53 Full Caps/1 Goal (1980-1990), Youth Caps; Football League Representative.

Club Honours: (with Cardiff City) Welsh Cup Runner-Up 1974/75; (with Bangor City) Welsh Cup Runner-Up 1977/78; (with Rangers) Scottish Cup Runner-Up 1981/82, 1982/83; Scottish League Cup Winner 1983/84, 1984/85, Runner-Up 1982/83; (with Leeds) Football League Champion 1991/92.

John played for Northern Ireland at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He eventually won 53 caps, scoring one goal in a win over Turkey. He was also captain of Northern Ireland from after the 1986 World Cup until his retirement in 1990.

John McClelland

 

Name: Aaron Hughes
Born: 8 November 1979, Cookstown
Height: 6.00 ft
Weight: 11.02 st
Position: Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 79 Full Caps / 1 Goal (1998-2011), 2 ‘B’ Caps (1997-1998); 5 Under-18 Caps / 1 Goal; 2 Under-16 Caps; 11 Schoolboy Caps.

Club Honours: (with Fulham) UEFA Europa League Runners-Up 2009/10.

Northern Ireland’s captain for close to a decade, Aaron Hughes’ leadership got off to a disastrous start with a 5-0 defeat by Spain, but thereafter he led the team to a number of historic results…

Aaron Hughes

 

Name: Alan McDonald
Born: 12 October 1963, Belfast
Height:
6.02½ ft
Weight: 13.10 st
Position: Central Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 52 Full Caps / 3 Goals (1985-1996), 8 Schoolboy Caps (1979).

Club Honours: (with QPR) Football league Cup Runner-Up 1985/86.

His can come and see me speech after what was just his second cap made Alan McDonald an immediate cult hero with the Northern Ireland fans…

Alan McDonald

 

Name: Gerry Taggart
Born: 18 October 1970, Belfast
Height: 6.01 ft
Weight: 13.02 st
Position: Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 51 Full Caps / 7 Goals (1990-2002), 2 Under-23 Caps (1989-1990), 2 Under-18 Caps, 1 Under-17 Cap, 6 Under-16 Caps / 1 Goal, 4 Under-15 Caps.

Club Honours: (with Bolton) Football League Division One Champion 1996/97; (with Leicester) Football League Cup Winner 1999/00, Runner-Up 1998/99; Football League Division One Runner-Up 2002/03.

A free-scoring centre-half (well by Northern Ireland standards anyway), some predicted that Big Ged Taggs would take the Northern Ireland goalscoring record…

Gerry Taggart

 

Name: Jackie Vernon
Born: 26 September 1918, Belfast
Height: 6.01 ft
Weight: 11.07 st
Position: Centre-Half

 

Representative Honours: Ireland: 17 Full Caps (1946-1951), 3 Victory Caps (1945-1946); Eire: 2 Full Caps (1946); Great Britain (vs Rest of Europe, 1947); Rest of Britain (vs Wales, 1951); Northern Regional League: 12 Caps (1941-1946).

Club Honours: (with Belfast Celtic) Irish League Champion 1939/40; Northern Regional (War-Time) League 1940/41, 1941/42, 1942/43, 1946/47; Irish Cup Winner 1940/41, 1942/43, 1943/44; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1942/43, 1944/45; (with West Brom) Football League Division Two Runner-Up 1948/49 (promoted); (with Crusaders) Ulster Cup Winner 1953/54.

Standing over six foot, and amazingly sporting just size five boots, Jackie Vernon was regarded as one of the best defenders in the world during the immediate post-war period.

Jackie Vernon

 

Name: Terry Neill
Name: 8 May 1942, Belfast
Height:
5.10½ ft
Weight: 12.08 st
Position: Centre-Half

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 59 Full Caps / 2 Goals (1961-1973), 4 Under-23 Caps (1962-1965); Youth, 3 Schoolboy Caps (1956-1957).

Danny Blanchflower’s long-term successor as Northern Ireland captain, the ‘sixties and ‘seventies proved a difficult stewardship for Terry Neill…

Terry Neill

 

Name: Chris Nicholl
Born: 12 October 1945, Wilmslow (England)
Height: 6.02 ft
Weight: 12.09 st
Position: Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 51 Full Caps / 3 Goals (1975-1983).

Club Honours: (with Halifax) Football League Division Four Runner-Up 1968/69; (with Luton) Football League Division Three Runner-Up 1969/70; (with Villa) Football League Cup Winner 1974/75, 1976/77; Football League Division Two Runner-Up 1974/75; Football League Division Three Champion 1971/72; (with Southampton) Football League Cup Runner-Up 1978/79; Football League Division Two Runner-Up 1977/78.

An old quiz favourite: “Which footballer scored all four goals in a 2-2 draw?” The answer: “Chris Nicholl versus Leicester City, March 1976.” But he was much more than a statisticians dream…

Chris Nicholl

 

Name: Allan Hunter
Born: 30 June 1946, Sion Mills
Height: 6.00 ft
Weight: 12.08 st
Position: Centre-Back

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 53 Full Caps (1969-1979), 1 Under-23 Cap (1969), Amateur.

Club Honours: (with Ipswich) FA Cup Winner 1977/78; Texaco Cup Winner 1972/73.

Hunter made 53 appearances for Northern Ireland, making him Ipswich Town’s most capped international player.

Allan Hunter

 

Name: Jackie Blanchflower
Born: 7 March 1933, Belfast
Height:
5.11 ft
Weight: 11.10 st
Position: Inside-Right / Centre-Half
Died: 2 September 1998

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 12 Full Caps/1 Goal (1954-1958), 6 Schoolboy Caps (1945-1947).

Club Honours: (with Manchester United) Football League Champion 1955/56; FA Cup Runner-Up 1956/57; FA Charity Shield Winner 1957.

A key player in Northern Ireland’s successful 1958 World Cup qualifying campaign, Jackie was cruelly injured in the Munich air crash, robbing him not only of a place at the Finals, but of his career and of eight of his Manchester United colleagues…

Jackie Blanchflower

 

Name: Robert Milne
Born: 1 October 1870, Inverarity, Forfarshire (Scotland)
Died: 2 November 1953, Belfast
Height:
5.09 ft
Weight: 12.00 st
Position: Centre-Half

 

Representative Honours: Ireland: 28 Full Caps / 2 Goals (1894-1906); Irish League: 10 Caps (1893-1905).

Club Honours: (with Gordon Highlanders) Irish Cup Winner 1889/90; (with Linfield) Irish League Champion 1890/91, 1891/92, 1892/93, 1894/95, 1897/98, 1901/02, 1903/04, 1906/07, 1907/08, 1908/09, Runner-Up 1893/94, 1898/99, 1899/1900, 1902/03; Irish Cup Winner 1890/91, 1891/92, 1892/93, 1894/95, 1897/98, 1898/99, 1901/02, 1903/04, Runner-Up 1893/94; City Cup Winner 1894/95, 1895/96, 1897/98, 1899/1900, 1900/01, 1901/02, 1902/03, 1903/04, 1907/08, Runner-Up 1898/99; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1898/99, 1903/04, 1905/06, 1906/07; Runner-Up 1895/96, 1896/97, 1897/98, 1902/03, 1904/05; Charity Cup Winner 1890/91, 1891/92, 1892/93, 1894/95, 1898/99, 1900/01, 1902/03, 1904/05, Runner-Up 1899/90, 1899/1900, 1901/02, 1906/07, 1907/08.

In a twenty-year plus playing career, Milne claimed a remarkable host of honours. He claimed 27 caps – in the days when Ireland played only three matches a season – and over thirty winner’s medals. He captained both club and country and was honoured with a benefit that earned him the startling sum of £113. His name was mentioned in the same breath as international contemporaries Steve Bloomer, G.O. Smith, Billy Meredith and Olphie Stanfield.

Robert Milne

 

Name: Jonathan Evans
Born: 3 January 1988, Belfast
Height: 6.02 ft
Weight: 12.02 st
Position: Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: Full Caps (2006-date), 3 Under-21 Caps (2006), 9 Under-17 Caps/1 Goal, Under-16 Caps, Schoolboy Caps.

Club Honours: (with Sunderland) Football League Championship 2006/07; (with Manchester United) Premier League Champion 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13; Football League Cup Winner 2008/09; FIFA Club World Cup Winner 2008; FA Community Shield Winner 2010, 2011, Runner-Up 2009.

Awards: Northern Ireland International Personality of the Year 2009, 2012.

The teenage Jonny Evans was handed his international debut in an unfamiliar position, against Spain, one of Europe’s leading sides, and starred in a famous 3-2 victory. In 2009 Jonny Evans became only the second player from Northern Ireland to claim a Premier League winner’s medal. With three titles he is level with Jack Reynolds and Bill McCracken.

Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans

 

Name: Gareth McAuley
Born: 5 December 1979, Larne
Height: 6.03 ft
Weight: 13.00 st
Position: Defender

 

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: Full Caps (2005-date), 1 B Cap (2003), 4 Under-18 Schools Caps (1998).

Club Honours: (with Coleraine) Irish Cup Winner 2002/03, Runner-Up 2003/04; (with Lincoln) Football League Two Play-Off Runner-Up 2004/05.

Awards: NI International Personality of the Year 2011.

Gareth McAuley made his ‘senior’ international debut in a ‘B’ match against Future Scotland in May 2003. Although the game ended in a 2-1 defeat, it is notable for the fact Northern Ireland scored through Steve Jones – the only goal scored by a ‘senior’ player during the infamous drought.

Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley

 

 

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3 responses to “Who Is The Irish FA’s Greatest Ever Centre-Back ?

  1. Big Mac Legend

  2. Craig Brotherston

    nothing would get past these 2 for me !!!

  3. !st heard about Aaron from a team mate of his at Coagh Utd, who told me he was about to sign for Newcastle Utd and was one to watch. He was so right I have watched Aaron play for N.Ireland and at Newcastle Utd whom my son supports and he always gives his best. Brilliant captain and a brilliant Ulster who is a credit to his country and a brilliant role model for young N.Ireland supporers.

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